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ARDS is committed to educating Yolngu people in their own language, incorporating their own experiences, knowledge and world-view.

Below is a transcript of a radio broadcast on ARDS Yolngu Radio with Dr Julie Graham, Head of Immunisations in the NT and interpreter Helen Guyulun.

I am Guyulun and I am talking with Dr Julie and Alice. Julie is the head of immunisations. This story is about the immunisations that our children have been having for a long time. Immunisations are the injections that babies get when they are two, four and six months old. Adults are also given them.

(Guyulun): How do the injections that are given into baby’s arms or thighs work?

(Dr Julie): The injections called immunisations stop children from getting sicknesses such as polio, mumps, measles and chicken pox and TB; the infectious diseases.

The sicknesses caused by germs, bacteria or viruses, that make our children sick. We can’t see germs except via a microscope. These tiny animals enter the child’s body, reproduce and make them sick.

(G): Julie I would like to find out from you what is actually in the immunisations that we give to children?

(Dr J): Scientists make a copy of the germ’s body and put it into the vaccine. However, the scientists work on it so that when it is injected into the baby it can’t make them sick.

(G): And what happens inside the child’s body?

(Dr J): I have heard about white blood cells a lot. We all hear them mentioned when we go to hospital. They are like our body’s soldiers that take care of us when any foreign sicknesses come into our body.

(G): So Julie, what do the white blood cells do with the vaccine? The white cells taste the vaccine. They learn to recognise this foreigner that causes the infectious diseases in our children. The white cells learn the characteristics of the foreign germs and remember them. They care for our body by being prepared to kill the germs that enter our body. These white cells live in our body year after year, for a long time.

(G): Why do babies get three of four injections at one time?

(Dr J): The injection is given two, three of four times to help the white cells learn to recognise the different germs. Then they will be lying there prepared and waiting. The vaccinated child will not get the sickness caused by the foreign germs.

What we have been discussing about the immunisations that the scientists make, is similar to how we train our children. We take them hunting, not just once as this would be too difficult. They may learn or they may not. We take them in the dry season to look for yams in the ground and teach them. We go into the jungle areas and show them the difference between the two yams, ganguri and djitama. These yams have similar looking leaves. We teach the children so they don’t dig up the wrong plant.

This is similar to how the vaccines help our white blood cells learn about the different germs. We don’t just show the children the different plants once. We continually take them hunting so they learn to recognise plants. We don’t just give the vaccines once either. We give them repeatedly so the white cells learn to recognise the germs and sit prepared for them.

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